Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.15 (E.O. 202.15) on April 9, 2020 with provisions pertaining to public hearings and certain public hearing requirements in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. E.O. 202.15 is the latest in a string of Executive Orders intended to balance the needs of public safety and continued economic growth throughout the state.
Public Hearings To Be Held Remotely or Postponed Until June 1, 2020
E.O. 202.15 orders that any local government which has a public hearing scheduled to take place in April or May of 2020 may hold such public hearing remotely, through use of telephone conference, video conference, and/or other similar service. Otherwise, E.O. 202.15 requires that public hearing to be postponed until June 1, 2020. This order comes at a time where more and more municipalities are transitioning to such virtual or remote platforms to conduct public meetings. During this transition, Cuddy & Feder LLP continues to provide continued, quality legal service by staying up-to-date on the technology used as well as the implications these platform changes have on the legal aspects pertaining to the land use entitlement process.
Effects on Environmental Review
E.O. 202.15 also suspends the requirement for public hearings required by certain state statutes and regulations provided that public participation requirements can be met by accepting public comments electronically or by mail. Of note is the E.O. 202.15’s suspension of the requirement for public hearings under the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 8. While ECL Article 8 is the enabling statute governing the regulations commonly referred to as the State Environmental Quality Review Act or SEQRA (6 NYCRR 617), E.O. 202.15 does not explicitly suspend public hearings required under the SEQRA regulations. Public hearings required by the SEQRA regulations should be held remotely when possible or postponed until June 1, 2020.